My New Year's wish for you

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Broccoli and Three Cheese Shells

Here we are, looking 2014 in the face.  For some, it’s a time to “get back on track” to eating well and exercising after enjoying the holidays.  For others, the new year brings a desire to start a new destination towards better health.

In my 14 years of working as a Registered Dietitian I have noticed that, for many, it is much easier to “get back on track” if you have been “on track” for most of the year.  Let me explain…

You see, good health is more than just eating well and being active.  It’s also about enjoying life.   This means something different to everyone but, for many, it is about encompassing all that the holidays have to offer, food included!

If you eat well and exercise most of the year, does it really matter much if you indulge for a few days during the holidays? No, of course not!  It’s what we eat the most (and our routine activity level), that has the biggest impact on our health and well-being.

I often get asked if I ever indulge or treat myself.  The answer is always yes!  But my idea of indulging might be different from others.  When you make eating well and being active a normal occurrence in your everyday life, then indulgences don’t rule your day, week, or year.  If you came into my house right now you would find potato chips and dip, ice cream, chocolate and more!  I am not kidding!  But I don’t keep these items on hand all year round and I don’t throw all my good habits out the window once the holidays arrive.  I still eat my fruits and vegetables and fit exercise into my routine.  I might not exercise as much or eat as well as I do the rest of the year but I know I will get “back on track” because it is a habit now.  And, as the saying goes, old habits are hard to break.

So, for those of you who already engage in good health practices, congratulations to you!  For those of you who have made better health a New Year’s resolution, also congratulations!  If you are a little lost as to how to get started you can look for help in your community and from your doctor, your family and your friends.  Learn what you need to know to keep healthy year round.  If you really stick with it, you will learn to love good-for-you food and active living. You will love the way it makes you feel, so getting “back on track” will never be hard to do. Then, next year, when the holidays come around you won’t have to worry about fixing what isn't broken.  Your healthy lifestyle will already be a habit so you can let the good times roll!

That is my New Year’s wish for you all.  Happy New Year!   

The recipe I have chosen for this column is one I plan to make over the holidays for a quick evening meal in between Christmas and New Year’s.  This recipe is from the PC® Holiday Insider’s Report.  To lower the sodium I will use PC Blue Menu whole tomatoes (chop them a little).  I will also lower the fat by using a cheese that has a percentage of M.F. (milk fat) of 22% or less. 


Broccoli and Three Cheese Shells

Ingredients 2-1/4 cups (550 mL) PC Frozen Broccoli Florets 1 pkg (250 g) Splendido Pasta Shells 1 tbsp (15 mL)  olive oil 1  small red onion, sliced 1  clove garlic, sliced ¼ cup (50 mL)  basil leaves ½ cup (125 mL)  grated Parmigiano Reggiano 1 bag (340 g) Shredded Mozzarella Cheese 1 cup (250 mL)  ricotta cheese ½ tsp (2 mL)  salt ¼ tsp (1 mL)  freshly ground black pepper 1 can (796 mL)  crushed tomatoes Instructions Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Spray 13 x 9-inch (3 L) glass baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add frozen broccoli florets; cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon or small strainer, scoop florets from water and transfer to bowl; when cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess water and place in food processor. Meanwhile, add pasta shells to boiling water; cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until pliable. Drain. Place on lightly oiled baking sheet to cool. In frying pan, heat oil over medium-low heat; cook onion and garlic until softened and starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape mixture into food processor. Add basil, Parmigiano and ½ cup (125 mL) of the mozzarella. Pulse on and off until mixture is smooth. Scrape into a bowl. Stir in ricotta, salt and pepper. Divide broccoli mixture evenly among pasta shells, pressing mixture into each shell with your fingers. Arrange in single layer in prepared baking dish. In large bowl, whisk crushed tomatoes with ½ cup (125 mL) water; pour evenly over shells. Sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella. Cover dish tightly with foil. Bake in centre of oven for 20 minutes or until pasta is tender. Uncover; broil for 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and starting to brown. Serves 8

Nutrition information per serving: 280 calories, fat 12, sodium 720 mg, carbohydrate 23 g, fibre 8 g, protein 19 g 

Recipe source

Anne Marie Armstrong, BscAHN, PDt is a registered dietitian with Atlantic Superstores in Nova Scotia. 

Have a nutrition question?  Contact me by calling 1-888-225-5295 ext. 632157 or through email at

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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